After the announcement that Australia would not be getting the eagerly awaited title We Happy Few, due to a refusal of classification, Compulsion Games have taken to the stage to respond to its Australian audiences. In a statement that responds to the board’s decision they addressed the problem and have resolved to find a solution, while asking those it’s affected to remain patient and have faith.
As many of you may know by now, yesterday the Australian Classification Board chose not to classify We Happy Few, effectively banning We Happy Few from sale in Australia. We are looking into it, and have asked for more information on the decision.
To our Australian fans, we share your frustration. We will work with the ACB on the classification. If the government maintains its stance, we will make sure that you can get a refund, and we will work directly with affected Kickstarter backers to figure something out. We would appreciate if you give us a little bit of time to appeal the decision before making a call.
We Happy Few is set in a dystopian society, and the first scene consists of the player character redacting material that could cause offense to “society at large”, as part of his job as a government “archivist”. It’s a society that is forcing its citizens to take Joy, and the whole point of the game is to reject this programming and fight back. In this context, our game’s overarching social commentary is no different than Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, or Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
The game explores a range of modern themes, including addiction, mental health and drug abuse. We have had hundreds of messages from fans appreciating the treatment we’ve given these topics, and we believe that when players do get into the world they’ll feel the same way. We’re proud of what we’ve created.
We would like to respond to the thematic side of We Happy Few in more detail at a later date, as we believe it deserves more attention than a quick PR response. In the meantime we will be talking to the ACB to provide additional information, to discuss the issues in depth, and see whether they will change their minds.
Considering that We Happy Few tackles issues such as drug abuse, addiction, and mental health, it’s no wonder it manages to raise red flags with the ACB. However, a game that addresses these tough subjects deserves the opportunity to be played by those of us who are over 18 and are able to properly rationalise such topics. The R18+ was meant for such titles as We Happy Few to protect those younger gamers whose development may not yet have reached the appropriate level. Sadly adult gamers are still being denied games, it would seem, based on the assumption that we just can’t be trusted to differentiate between what is reality and what is the game. More news on this story as it progresses.